The Government of India has slammed Twitter for adding a ‘manipulated media’ tag to tweets that shared images from the Congress toolkit. The Ministry of Electronics and IT has demanded that the tag be removed, asserting that it is up to investigative authorities and not Twitter to determine the veracity of the toolkit.
Sources within the Ministry said, “Ministry of Electronics and IT, Government of India has written a strong communication to the global team of Twitter registering objection on the use of “Manipulated Media” tag on certain Tweets made by Indian political leaders with reference to a toolkit created to undermine, derail and demean the efforts of the Government against COVID19 pandemic.”
“In its communication to Twitter, the Ministry has stated that a complaint has already been made by one of the concerned parties before local law enforcement agency questioning the veracity of the toolkit and the same is under investigation.” Sources said that Twitter has taken an arbitrary and unilateral decision regarding the matter.
Sources said, “Such tagging by Twitter appears prejudged, prejudiced and a deliberate attempt to colour the investigation by local law enforcement agency. The Ministry has termed such unilateral action by Twitter as an effort to influence the fair investigation process and a clear overreach, which is totally unwarranted.”
“Ministry of Electronics and IT has further stated in its communication that Twitter unilaterally chose to go ahead and designate certain tweets as ‘Manipulated’, pending investigation by law enforcement agency. This action not only dilutes the credibility of Twitter as a neutral and unbiased platform facilitating exchange of views by the users but also puts a question mark on the status of Twitter as an “Intermediary”,” they added.
Twitter had added the ‘manipulated media’ tag to a tweet by BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra a day after Congress wrote a letter to Twitter asking to permanently suspend the accounts of BJP leaders for allegedly “spreading misinformation”. The Government has now demanded that the tag be removed in the interests of fairness and equity.
In his tweets, Patra had accused the Congress party of carrying out PR exercise with the help of “Friendly Journalists” and “Influencers”. Twitter, acting arbitrarily on the demands of Congress, has not revealed on what basis it concluded that the ‘toolkit’ tweet of the BJP leader was manipulative. After flagging the tweet, Twitter has claimed that the tweets have violated its “Synthetic and manipulated media policy”.